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Washington man charged after allegedly threatening to kill Black shoppers at Elmwood Ave. Tops

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — A man from Lynnwood, Washington, is facing a federal charge after allegedly calling the Tops Markets store on Elmwood Avenue and threatening to shoot Black shoppers.

37-year-old Joey David George called the North Buffalo grocer on July 19 and 20, threatening to shoot Black people in the store, according to the United States Attorney Western District of Washington’s office.

In his second call to the store, he allegedly went on a rant about a “race war,” the criminal complaint outlined. Law enforcement was able to trace the telephone number and identify George as the caller.

The threat against the Elmwood store came just over two months after a racially motivated mass shooting at the Tops on Jefferson Avenue that killed 10 people and injured three others on May 14.

George was charged Thursday in the U.S. District Court in Seattle with making interstate threats.

George will make his initial appearance in court Friday at 2 p.m. PDT. He’s currently behind bars in SeaTac, Washington, at the Federal Detention Center, pending court hearings.

“The Buffalo community is trying to heal from the horrific shooting at a Tops grocery store. I cannot imagine the type of fear such hate-fueled threats engendered in those just trying to go about their daily lives, said U.S. Attorney Nick Brown. “We cannot tolerate this kind of hate in our community and will not sit by while people seek to terrorize others across our country.”

George has also been charged for an alleged May 2022 call where he threatened to shoot Black and Hispanic patrons at a San Bruno, California restaurant, according to the USAO.

According to the criminal complaint, he allegedly made a string of hate-fueled phone calls over the last 12 months to businesses in Maryland, Connecticut and Washington State. In these calls, George allegedly “used racial slurs and threats to shoot customers at the businesses because of his racial hatred,” a news release from the USAO said.

Patrick Ryan is a digital producer who has been part of the News 4 team since 2020. See more of his work here.

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